Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Indoor Winter Wonderland

In New York it is often too cold to go outside (legally) in the winter time.  In order to go outside, the center policy is that it has to be warmer than 25 degrees including the wind chill factor, and even then there are various time constraints based on how cold it is.  This problem often leads to cabin fever that no amount of super- fun gross motor activities can seem to cure.  The magic balm rather is bringing the outside in.  In the winter I bring tubs full of snow inside from the outside. We do many things with the snow.  Sometimes I have them put gloves on and they play in the snow however they see fit; this often results in several  miniature snow men on various surfaces waiting to melt.  We also stir it, put trucks in it, melt it with salt, pour warm water in it, dig in it, and anything else you can think of.  My favorite activity with the tubs of snow however, (and theirs too), is variations on snow paint.  

Here are some pictures from a few weeks ago:

I had several small squirt bottles out filled with their choice of water and liquid water color.  We ran out of liquid water colors on this particular occasion so I just started using food coloring and water.  They work about the same, the only downside to food coloring is that the color is more watered down and there for not as vibrant and doesn't take as easily to the snow.  It still works fine, though.

I also gave them Dixie cups filled with water and liquid water color, pipettes, and eye droppers.  They were fascinated with the holes that they could make in the snow by dropping the contents of their pipettes in the same spot over and over again.  I also gave them spoons and forks that they used to dig or rake the snow.  When they first started, once they had covered the surface of the snow with color, they would dig down and bring up white snow to put on top and start all over again.  

We did this several times over- we used about 6 bins of snow this paticular day and we would have used more if we didn't have to go to lunch.  
As you can see we ended up with quite a variety of colors.

This is one of my favorite shots; It is "a mountain" that they made unintentionally and one little girl sprayed and sprayed this mountain.  The holes in the top are from the water stream from the spray bottles; She held the spray bottle not even a centimeter away from it while spraying.  The mountain was made when they were digging "valleys" for the "rivers;"  At this point the snow had melted down enough and enough of the color had gathered at the bottom beneath the snow that, if they dug deep, they created rivers of liquid water color.  

On this day I let them play in it again after lunch and nap time, when it resembled glaciers in blackish water.  This was an interesting discovery for them.  They were surprised that the water from the melted snow was cold for some reason.  

On other occasions they have put glitter in the snow, buried buttons and dug them out again, put chalk in it that they smashed up using mortars and pestles but  ultimately they always come back to just wanting to do spray bottles and pipettes with colored water.   In a very slight variation of this I put ordinary colored water and pipettes and spray bottles at one table and the same things at another except I had them dissolve salt in the water.  They did ask for spoons and forks or shovels but I told them that I didn't have any that day so they would pay attention to what was happening. They went back from table to table and eventually found out that the salt water melted the snow much more efficiently than than the plain water.  Once this discovery was made it was every child at the "salt" table; They worked together spraying and dropping until the entirety of the snow melted into salty indigo liquid.  I put out the salt bottles another day, but they weren't as interested in melting; the discovery had already been made.  

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